The 4 Cs of Learning

The 4 Cs of Learning

You know the four Cs right? I mean everyone is talking about them. The four Cs that are going to change education in the 21st century? They are amazing! Do a Google Image Search for 21st Century Skills and you get a beautiful display of the four Cs. Great colors, wonderful wording and multiple ways to explain: Communication Collaboration Creativity Critical Thinking I look at this list from the lens of a 4th grade teacher, a tech coach, a consultant or a substitute teacher and I can’t help but think…really? This is new? There is nothing new in this list that educators haven’t been teaching and focused on for years. Don’t get me started on these being “21st century skills,” a phrase I gave up over 7 years ago. So why do these things keep coming up? As I work with schools and educators, we do focus on these four Cs. They aren’t new…but in a way they actually are new. How we view them is new, what they mean is new. In 2016 these four Cs have a different meaning. Communication: Teaching to communicate the way the world communicates Not sure if you have noticed, but we no longer write letters to each other. We write Facebook updates, Facebook messages. We write emails…lots of them actually. We write LinkedIn updates, Tweets, Snaps, and Grams. I’m not saying it’s right…I’m saying this is how the world, both socially and in the business world, communicate. So where are we teaching this in schools? Where are we teaching: How to create and send an email to a variety of audiences? How do you make contact with someone on Twitter and LinkedIn? How do you use Instagram to get your message across via images? Yes…communication isn’t new to education but how we communicate has changed. Are we teaching these new forms of communication? Where do they belong in our curriculum? At what level should we start and how do we assess these new forms of communication? Those are the questions we should be trying to answer in 2016. Collaboration: Across space and time Collaboration isn’t new. I remember doing group projects in elementary school in the 80’s. We collaborated on projects, on worksheets, on reading and science projects. Collaboration….getting along, working with others…has always been a part of education. So why is this a “21st century skill”? In 2016 collaboration means across space...

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NYT Summer Reading Contest…What If

NYT Summer Reading Contest…What If

A teacher brought this contest ran by the New York Times to my attention the other day as they were starting to prepare for teaching summer school. This is the third time the New York Times has ran the contest where they ask students to submit 350 word responses to articles they read on the site or in the newspaper.  Each week they will choose a winner who’s winning response will get posted on the website as well as shared on Twitter and Facebook. A great way to promote student work through the NYT. Also not a bad way for parents to get their students involved in reading and writing over the summer. Reading and writing for a purpose around a contest.  But I think it could be more….what if….. CC: By Mike Licht What if students had a blog where they could write as much as they wanted and linked back to the articles they were writing about? From what I can tell the New York Times doesn’t show/allow trackback links which kind of stinks as then students would automatically be linked to the piece they were writing about. Of course the way around this is to simply leave a comment on the article or piece of media you are writing about. Just like I’ll do on the link above in a comment. What if your child or students where responding to articles and wrote 1000 word responses or 1500 word responses or 200 words? What if we connected those responses to the articles they were writing about, reflecting about and learning from? What if some other readers of those articles followed the links to the students’ blogs and continued to read their reflections there? What if someone left a comment, or tweeted, or shared on Facebook one of the students’ responses to an article? What if we taught students how to build a network, how to use hyperlinks, and how to write for the audience that reads the New York Times. Of course students could still enter the 350 word contest and in writing blog posts probably make those 350 words more precise giving them an even better chance as winning the contest one week to the next. Once students realize they’re writing is linked to the New York Times and they start getting readers, then we start talking about improving the writing, working on technique, voice, grammer, etc. Because now there’s a purpose to be a better...

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Creating E-Books with Kindergarteners

Creating E-Books with Kindergarteners

OK….I’ll admit over the past couple of months I’ve been hard on primary teachers on this blog. I have talked about my struggles with using technology with the younger students and how I felt we should be limiting their screen time to really good uses of technology. Uses that don’t include iPads as flashcard and game replacement devices.  cover of Monkey and cat What I was struggling with was finding a project that I felt was worth the time away from exploring, running around, building, and imagining things in favor of sitting with a digital device. I still struggle with this actually. If all that iPads and technology can be used for in the younger years is games, flashcard replacement, and a handful of other replacement type tasks then I’m not sure we’re getting the bang for our buck with technology. I want it to do more, I want it to redefine the classroom and that’s hard when I believe kids should be spending time playing together, interacting, and imagining. Also knowing that outside of school many of them are getting plenty of screen time at home. So what I really am looking for is a project where I can say…that is a good use of technology with Kindergardeners.  And I found it…. Ben Sheridan is a recently graduate of the COETAIL program. For his final project he talked about the way he was using technology to connect his students to other Kindergarten classrooms. His class has a blog, they tweet, they Skype, they use the SmartBoard…and the best part is they think this is all just normal Kindergarden stuff.  Out of these connections came an opportunity when Ben connected his class with Zoe Page’s class, a Kindergarten teacher in Japan and current COETAILer. Their students set up a Skype call and introduced themselves to each other. They then decided that they wanted to write a book together for the iPad.  That book can now be downloaded free in the iBook Store here.  Ben outlines the project and how they completed it in a series of blog posts on his blog. If you are an early childhood/primary teacher Ben and Zoe are two blogs worth following.  These are the kind of projects that get me excited about using technology with younger kids. Let’s stop arguing over how many iPads a class needs, or what device is right for the primary grades and lets find...

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Making a Choice in an Endless Choice World

Over the last year we’ve been fixing up the condo we purchased in Seattle. As we’ve been doing the remodel we find ourselves doing research on such things as kitchen faucets. Who knew there were 1000s of different faucets and not only are there 1000s of different faucets, we have access to all of them. So on a Saturday morning my wife and I sit on the couch and start at opposite ends of the Internet and narrowing down the options. In a world of endless resources how do you find the perfect resource? How do you find the perfect faucet? You rely on others to help you out. I’m not sure how many faucet reviews I read, how many rating systems I learned on different websites, but I do know without all those reviews, without people taking the time to write about their purchases our job of picking the perfect faucet would have easily doubled. Are we teaching students to make choices in a world where choices are endless? There’s a skill to all of this, and part of it is making a decision based on the best data you can find and have at your disposal. Are we teaching students to find and evaluate data? Are we teaching them to read reviews ranging from 5 stars to 1 stars and make a judgement call a product, or a piece of information? I’ve watched people struggle with this world of endless choice and in the end I’ve watched people get so overwhelmed by all the information that they just pick one and hope for the best. We need to be teaching our students how to evaluate not only information, but information about products and services as well and how to use that information to make an informed...

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A blog post, a tweet, a connection

I have to share this story with you if for no other reason….I’ve shared it with anyone that would listen to me at school today. I believe this story shows the power of: 1. What can happen when we allow students to be “out there”.2. What happens when our teachers become networked and can bring that network to their students.3. That through connections educational possibilities are endless! This couldn’t have come at a better time with Clint H leaving a comment on my last post about a conversation he had with his IT Director: He has some very persuasive arguments for his ‘walled garden’ approach (including “nobody ever reads public blogs anyway so what’s the difference?”) Really….nobody reads public blogs anymore……..please read on! So here’s how the story of connections played out last night. 1. I do a lesson in one of our 5th grade classrooms where we have a great discussion around what it means to blog, what good blogging looks like, and the difference between leaving a comment and a compliment. We also learn how to add an image to our post and how to add a link. Following the teachers lead based on this blog post, the students homework is to write a reflective blog post about the science experiment they did and what they learned. I leave the room with this challenge: I will read all your blog posts tonight and the best ones I’ll send out for the world to read. Of course they no nothing of the 4700+ Twitter followers I have or the 400+ Facebook friends. Nor should they care…what is important here is that their teacher is connected into a wider community to help foster a global audience. 2. Late last night I visited the classes netvibes page and started going through the student’s blog posts leaving comments on everyone of them. I was proud to see that most everyone’s blogging had improved from before our lesson and some students had really taken the time to sit down and write out their thoughts. One such student was Haley who wrote out the experiment that the students had done in class. A great little bit of procedural writing (writing connection). I decided that this was one of the top 5 posts in the class and sent a link to her blog post out on Twitter and to my Facebook Friends asking them...

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